Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What constitutes an Eco-Friendly Resort?

 What is an Eco Resort?

At Platinum International Real Estate and Investments we have been approached many times about what constitutes and Eco-resort and have finally come up with your basic answer.
An eco-resort protects the environment, benefits local communities, and helps guests learn about the local surroundings while they explore them. Eco-resorts are not just for leisure but offer the tourist a complete eco-experience. A true Eco-resort not only offers eco-friendly sightseeing , but the accommodation, transport and cooking methods are also eco-friendly. Using solar heating, bio-toilets, and using transport systems more efficiently are all eco-friendly examples put to use to reduce the effect of people on the environment and in essence reducing our carbon footprints.

What is the standard criteria for the Certification of an Eco-Resort?

• Design and Construction
• Water conservation
• Liquid waste management
• Solid waste management
• Energy production and conservation
• Natural areas and conservation
• Lawn and gardens
• Protection of flora and fauna
• Contamination of air, water and soil
• Environmental education
• Quality standards

 Since only about 1% of the eco-resorts are actually certified, it is sometimes better to check with the resorts directly.
Here is a list of some questions to ask and keep in mind.
What does the resort do to protect and conserve the local flora and fauna?
How does it involve local communities?
What interpretive facilities (cultural or ecological) are available to guests?

Other questions that are at the micro-level for the observant and discerning traveller are:
What are the ways in which the resort contributes to the local community? Are there employment opportunities, education programmes for the people employed and the guests? Does the eco-resort contribute to the area's economy by buying local products?
What does the property do to minimize waste? How do you manage garbage, waste and recyclables?

Are the towels and bed linen changed every day for a guest automatically or is it done only if there is a guest request?
How are the toiletries packaged? And is the packaging recycled?
How is grey water and sewage treated ?
Are any alternative energy resources like solar or wind used?
Is there air-conditioning or air cooling?
Do you have any other water conservation measures? And if so, what are they?
Did you use environmentally friendly building materials and indigenous plants in the construction and landscaping of the resort?

Some of Belize's Eco-Friendly Resorts are : Blackadore Caye, Black Rock, Blancaneaux Lodge, Casa Del Caballo, Chaa Creek, Chan Chich Lodge, Cotton Tree Lodge, El Pescador, Hamanasi, Jaguar Paw, Journey's End, Kaana and Lamanai. This list is certainly not complete being that there are many others that we have not mentioned.

Bookmark and Share


blogger counter

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Battle of St George's Caye Celebrated in Belize on the 10th of September Every Year

The Battle of St. George's Caye was a short military engagement, came as a result of the outbreak of war between Britain and Spain in 1796, lasted from 3 September to 10, 1798, fought off the coast of what is now Belize. However, the name is typically reserved for the final battle that occurred on September 10.

The battle took place between an invading force from Mexico, attempting to claim Belize for Spain, and a small force of resident woodcutters called Baymen , who fought for their livelihood assisted by black slaves. After the final two and a half hour battle, ravaged by sickness, the Spaniards withdrew and the British declared themselves winners.

The territory that is now Belize was under dispute from as early as the mid 1750s by Great Britain and Spain. While Spain never occupied Belize, she apparently considered it part of her Central American territories, such as Mexico and Guatemala. The British had entered the territory as of 1638 to harvest logwood and later mahogany. Spain recognized this trade in the Treaty of Paris (signed in 1763) but did not undertake to draw boundaries (which would have suggested that Spain was giving up claims of sovereignty to the area), leading to further disputes. Indeed, from 1779 to 1782 the settlement was practically non-existent, its settlers having been deported to Havana, Cuba.

The Treaty of Versailles and the Superintendency
In 1783, hostilities were brought to an end by the signing of the treaty of Versailles, which allowed the Baymen rights between the Belize and Hondo rivers; this was extended with the 1786 Convention of London to the Sibun River. Cutting rights were granted to the settlers on the condition that the settlement be recognized as belonging to Spain; Superintendent Col. Marcus Despard was to administer the terms of the treaty. Due to conflicts with the inhabitants Despard resigned, but by 1796 it was clear the issue would have to be settled.

Escalation and preparations
Humphreys relates that in a 1796 visit to the area, Visitador Juan O'Sullivan claimed the British were encroaching on Spanish territory in Mexico by cutting near the Rio Hondo. Upon his return to Spain, hostilities broke out between Great Britain and Spain as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. The Spanish viewed the situation seriously and determined to take out the British.

Colonists appealed to Jamaica Lieutenant Governor Alexander Lindsay, Sixth Earl of Balcarres, for assistance. Even though he was in the midst of the Maroon Wars, Balcarres nonetheless sent muskets and ammunition to the settlement and a further shipment arrived on Lt. Thomas Dundas' ship HMS Merlin in December 1796. But upon his arrival, Dundas noted panic in the settlement and the subsequent dispatching of slaves to cut logwood instead of preparing to defend the settlement.

Balcarres then named Major (promoted to Lt. Colonel) Thomas Barrow Superintendent of the settlement. Barrow, a seasoned veteran of war according to Humphreys, immediately began whipping the unruly Baymen into shape, and martial law, stopping all activities in the settlement, was declared on February 11, 1797. On March 18, magistrates Thomas Potts, Thomas Graham and Marshall Bennett all asked Barrow whether there were any incoming messages from Jamaica. Barrow admitted that more help would be on the way soon, to alleviate the fears of the Baymen, but Humphreys calls the actions of Potts and company "cowardly" and says that even after that reassurance morale was low.

The June evacuation meeting
Impatient with the plans to defend the settlement, the Baymen called a public meeting for 1 June 1797. At this meeting, the Baymen voted 65 to 51 to defend the settlement and cooperate with Barrow. This initial support wavered considerably between then and September 1798, as reports came in of the size of the Spanish arrived just north of St George's Caye in early September 1798, all secured by Don Arturo O'Neill Tirone, Yucatán Governor and Commander of the expedition, had secured: reportedly consisted of 32 vessels, including sixteen heavily armed men-of-war and 2000 troops broken down below.

“ ...two very large frigates, an armed brig, and two sloops carrying two 100 pounders, and four gunboats carrying each a 24 pounder in bow; with several other armed vessels, arrived... at Campeche, and taking aboard about 300 troops, then sailed and (made a rendezvous) at the island of Cozumel;...the two frigates and the brig left the fleet there and as the deserters understood, returned to La Vera Cruz... A schooner of 22 guns, to which they (the deserters) belonged, then became commodore...All the small vessels of the fleet were to be sent to Bacalar to assist in embarking the troops at that place, said to consist of 12 companies of 100 men each... ”

This estimate was severely reduced due to outbreaks of yellow fever and dissent in the Spanish army. Nevertheless, it was enough to frighten the Baymen into posting lookouts near the boundaries of the territory.
Baymen's preparations
The Merlin's command in 1798 was Captain John Moss, a strategist on the order of Barrow. By July 18, 1798 the fleet had reached Cozumel, leading the settlers to agree to arm their slaves, an act that affected the outcome of the battle due to the slaves' knowledge of warfare. There were still some who were cautious and demanded evacuation, including Potts, but Balcarres ignored them and imposed martial law on July 26. The Settlement lineup consisted of the following:

“ Merlin, HM's sloop of war; two sloops, Towser and Tickler, with one 18 pounder and 25 men each; one sloop, Mermaid, with one short 9 pounder and 25 men; the schooners, Swinger and Teazer, with six four pounders and 25 men each; seven gun-flats, one 9 pounder and 16 men each. ”

In addition there were 700 troops ready to deter attack by land.
The Battle
From September 3 to 5, the Spaniards tried to force their way through Montego Caye shoal, blocked by the defenders and shallow waters. The military commanders, Moss and Barrow, differed on where to put their resources for the next phase of the fight: Barrow thought they would go to the land phase, while Moss decided on defending St. George's Caye. Moss arrived in time to stop the Spaniards, setting the stage for September 10.

September 10
On the morning of September 10, 1798, fourteen of the largest Spanish ships sailed to within 2.5km of St George's Caye, keeping to the deep water to the east, and began firing. Captain Moss of the Merlin held his fire – the Spanish broadsides were falling short. At 1:00 pm that afternoon, the Spaniards and British lined up off St. George's Caye. The Spaniards stormed through the channel, and at 1:30 Captain Moss gave the order to open fire. Guns blazing, the Merlin and the Baymen's fleet swept forward, wreaking havoc among the heavy and crowded Spanish ships. The Spaniards engaged the British in a two-hour fight which ended in defeat for the confused Spaniards who were already weakened by desertions and yellow fever. They suffered heavy losses and fled in disorder to Caye Chapel. There they remained for five days, burying their dead on the island. Moss reported no one killed and the side in good spirits. Barrow was dispatched and arrived in time to see the end of the battle and prevent the slave men from boarding the enemy. The Spaniards were in full retreat by September 13, and Barrow agreed to send vessels to further push the Spaniards back. On the morning of September 16 the defeated fleet sailed for Bacalar.

Though a victory was won against overwhelming odds, the Battle of St George's Caye was not by itself decisive. No one in Belize could be sure that the Spanish would not once again attempt to remove the Baymen by force. The legal status was as before: a settlement where the inhabitants could cut timber but which did not constitute a territory of the British empire. Sovereign rights remained, nominally at least, with Spain.

However, in purely practical terms the power of the Spanish empire was waning while the British empire was consolidating and expanding. But in Belize the slaves were still slaves, though they had fought valiantly alongside the Baymen: their owners expected them to go back to cutting mahogany. Emancipation came no earlier than elsewhere in the British empire. Indeed controversy still exists within Belize over the fact that the battle was fought between two European powers to establish rule over a colony. It created the conditions for Belize to become an integral part of the British empire and enabled the slave owners to claim that the slaves were willing to fight on behalf of their masters. Whatever its legacy, the 1798 expedition was the last time that Spain attempted to gain control over Belize; Britain gradually assumed a greater role in the government of the settlement

The event is celebrated every September 10 in Belize as St. George's Caye Day or National Day.

Bookmark and Share


Monday, September 7, 2009

Andrew Zimmern Bizarre World’s - Belize Segment Premiers Tuesday, September 8th at 10PM ET

World Famous Andrew Zimmern, a food writer, TV personality, chef, teacher and host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, was in the country filming the first episode for his new TV Show Bizarre Worlds. The show will feature different aspects of the countries he visits and Zimmern’s piece on Belize will showcase art, Mayan sites, caves, cayes and of course, food.

Andrew arrived in Belize on Monday, April 6, and was filming throughout the week. “This is our first show in the Bizarre World series. So it is a really a momentous occasion for us and we’re just thrilled to be able to kick it off in Belize,” commented Zimmern

According to Zimmern he had wanted to visit Belize for the past 15 years but was unable to do so because of his hectic work schedule and was extremely pleased to finally visit the country and to film his show here.

Andrew Zimmern Belizean adventure includes swimming with sharks and sting rays, exploring the hidden underworld of the caves (Actun Tunichil Muknal) and sinks his teeth into Mayan-style pork brains and the country’s most prized rodent, the Gibnut.

Zimmern considered this experience one of the highlights of his trip so far. “That is what I will never forget. It was like a museum without the four walls. Seeing the site through the eyes of our guides was what made it amazing. That is what is beautiful about this country, the ability to enjoy the Maya heritage and the jungles, but also being able to experience the beauty of the Caribbean Sea with spectacular marine life,” explained Zimmern.

“There are more than just ancient Mayan cultures and beaches here. Now we are exploring both of those because we think there are interesting stories for folks who will never make it here but we also want to talk about the Creole population,” commented Zimmern. “We also want to talk about the indigenous food; we want to take our cameras into the art parks, connect people in the rest of the world, it shows in 70 countries.” The show airs in 70 countries that will see the people of Belize and show what really makes Belize truly the Best Kept Secret of The Caribbean.

Belize will be the first episode of Bizarre World, which premiers on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. Be sure to mark your calendars and tune into the Travel Channel at 10:00 p.m. eastern time.

Bookmark and Share